(C) 2002 Kenny Moore. All Rights Reserved.
The week began with an ominous cloud for the Florida State program with the dismissal of starting quarterback Adrian McPherson from the team over events surrounding the theft of a check from a Tallahassee business. This dark shadow followed a horrendous performance in a defeat in Raleigh, NC at the hands of former FSU coach Chuck Amato and the Wolfpack team that held the Seminoles scoreless on offense in one of the worst efforts we've seen in many years from the FSU team, in a game that was for sole possession of the ACC championship. Even though FSU hasn't exactly treasured our conference championships over the years in our quest for loftier national goals, one would think that a game with the conference championship on the line would inspire a much greater effort than the one we watched in horror. Only a surprise thrashing of Maryland by Virginia allowed FSU to "claim" our ACC championship as we embarrassingly backed our way into the honor with a four loss season and that humiliating loss to North Carolina State. FSU was the butt of many jokes through the week for our "earning" of a spot in a BCS bowl by virtue of this ACC championship despite four losses, and visions of a team staring the possibility of a five loss season right in the eyes heading to New Orleans had even the most optimistic FSU fans quietly considering whether or not we should just turn down the bid. FSU had already lost as many games as we did last year, and we still had the #11 ranked Gators licking their chops at the thought of finally getting a coveted win in Tallahassee against a seriously wounded FSU program, wounded both mentally by virtue of another down season with this huge scandal breaking at just the worst time, and physically by virtue of so many players out with injury. The Seminoles had to face a Gator team that had the luxury of an open date the week prior to our game with our starting QB off the team, two starting offensive linemen out with injury, and our top three tailbacks also out. UF smelled blood in a way very much reminiscent of the 1998 game.
But just like in 1998, the FSU team pulled together to make the emphatic statement, "NOT IN OUR HOUSE, YOU SCUM SUCKING GATOR DOGS!", in rolling the stunned Gators by a 31-14 margin in a game that really was nowhere near as close as the score would indicate. Not with four losses, not with us losing our starting QB (again), not with us down to our fourth string true freshman tailback, not with a patchwork offensive line, not with total team turmoil and dissension both during the week and the season, not with looming questions from many fans about the current effectiveness of our coaching staff, not with UF having an extra week to prepare, not with *everything* pointing to a Florida victory. With all these factors, the Florida Gators could still not manage to stay within three scores of us in Tallahassee and the only reason they did that was because of our charity and sportsmanship in calling off the dogs from inside their ten yard line late in the game. A season of disappointment would thus end with a resounding exclamation point to the demise of our most hated rival, affording FSU fans the ability to mockingly say to Florida fans that we may not be very good this year, BUT AT LEAST WE'RE A HELL OF A LOT BETTER THAN YOU. This total demolition of the Gators in Doak Campbell Stadium in the worst period of FSU football in quite some time, coupled with the circumstances we won under in the 1998 game leads one to seriously wonder if UF is ever going to taste victory in Tallahassee again. Gator coach Ron Zook was made to eat his thoughts about Doak Campbell Stadium not being a difficult place to play as the FSU crowd was in peak form and had significant impact on the game with our rattling of Rex Grossman early in the third quarter deep in his own territory to help create what could well be the signature moment of Kendyll Pope's FSU career with his 13 yard interception return for a touchdown. The mark of a *seriously rocking crowd* is the ability to make the network cameras shake in their pandemonium and we accomplished this a few times during this game.
FSU fans shouldn't be so short-sighted to think that this victory means that all the problems that led to this season's many disappointments are now put to rest as a thing of the past. This was just one game and we must not conveniently forget that the effort the previous week against North Carolina State was every bit as miserable as this one was inspired. But for the purposes of this summary and this moment of time (even nearly three weeks later as this summary's completion is), it's perfectly fine to just bask in the joy that is found in kicking Gator tail up and down the field.
The game marked the triumphant return of embattled FSU QB Chris Rix to the starting role. The boos from the student section turned into adoring cheers throughout the game as Rix had perhaps his best game as a Seminole in the most unlikely of circumstances. Calm, cool and collected, he clearly was the leader of our team on offense as he made but a scant few of the bad decisions that previously led to his demotion (none of which were of the particularly awful variety), made quite a few excellent throws, and picked his spots to run very wisely. True freshman Leon Washington carved his way through the Gator defense for an excellent 134 yard performance at a time when we needed it the most. Our defense played superb football for the first time in I don't know how long. In the second half, we were swarming to the ball, making big plays and looking every bit as tenacious as the great Seminole defenses of the past. It was FSU football the way it always should be and we couldn't have picked a better night to have everything finally come together.
1. Our run defense was having problems with Earnest Graham, particularly early in the game. He was hurting us, but fortunately the Zookmeister chose to exploit that less as the game progressed. Graham finished with a respectable 82 yards on 17 carries, but it looked like he would have a much bigger game than that early on. The lowlights for our run defense:
--6 yard run allowed by RB Graham on a 2nd and 6 play: Kendyll Pope was destroyed by a block and Allen Augustin was blocked.
--10 yard run allowed by RB Graham: Jerome Carter was completely plowed under and injured by Graham's strong running, Allen Augustin was blocked, Kendyll Pope was blocked.
--19 yard run allowed by RB Graham: Allen Augustin was destroyed by a block, Kendyll Pope was blocked, Michael Boulware was blocked, Kyler Hall took a terrible angle on the play and was totally juked, Rufus Brown was blocked.
--10 yard run allowed by QB Grossman on a scramble: Our LB's took way too long to come up as we should have been able to pummel Rex after 4 or 5 yards instead of allowing 10 on this play.
--16 yard run allowed by RB Graham for a 3rd and 2 conversion: Claudius Osei was blocked, Allen Augustin was blocked, Kendyll Pope was blocked.
2. The refs missed an obvious holding call on UF on a flat pass to OJ Small.
3. Our pass defense surrendered 303 yards passing to Rex Grossman on the night, but it was an extremely quiet 303 yards, with 40 of them coming on the next to last play of the game, and most of them being yards that weren't really hurting us badly. I'll take this effort from our pass defense any time. But in giving up 303 yards passing, you're going to have a lot of lowlights. Here's the list for this game:
--28 yard catch allowed by WR Kight beating Claudius Osei and Kendyll Pope in coverage.
--Allen Augustin and Claudius Osei were beat by TE Walker on a 3rd and 9 play, but a bad pass and drop allowed us to get the stop. We were lucky here, so I'll note our bad coverage even though the play didn't hurt us.
--15 yard catch allowed by WR Jacobs beating Bryant McFadden who gave too much cushion on an out pattern.
--25 yard catch allowed by WR Kight on a post pattern beating Jerome Carter and A.J. Nicholson who both left Kight totally uncovered. This was blown coverage.
--13 yard catch allowed by WR Jacobs on an out pattern beating Bryant McFadden and Jerome Carter.
--20 yard catch allowed by WR Jacobs on a deep slant pattern beating Leroy Smith and Kyler Hall for a 2nd and 18 conversion.
--22 yard catch and run allowed by WR Kight on a quick out beating Michael Boulware, Kyler Hall and Bryant McFadden who were all in the area in coverage against the three receivers UF had over there with their formation on the play. Boulware was blocked by one WR, McFadden ran out of the play with his coverage on the other WR, so Kyler Hall was the one that needed to make the play on Kight, but he made a bad read and got out of position to allow the big gain after the catch.
--17 yard catch allowed by WR Jacobs on an out pattern to pick up a 3rd and 9 conversion, beating Bryant McFadden who had *very tight* coverage on the play and was beat by a perfect throw by Grossman to a *very* tight area.
--15 yard catch allowed by WR Small on a sideline pattern beating Kyler Hall.
--18 yard catch allowed by WR Jacobs on a square in pattern beating Leroy Smith, Kyler Hall and Claudius Osei.
--9 yard TD catch allowed by WR Small beating Jerome Carter in coverage.
--8 yard catch allowed by WR Jacobs for a 2nd and 5 conversion on a short square in pattern beating Rufus Brown who left him wide open in zone coverage.
--22 yard catch allowed by TE Walker beating Kendyll Pope, Kyler Hall and Claudius Osei who were all in the area. I'm not sure who had the primary responsibility here.
--40 yard catch allowed by WR Kight on a post pattern beating Kendyll Pope.
4. Leon Washington was killed at the 15 yard line on our first kickoff return. Later, he misjudged the flight of the ball on another kickoff and let the ball bounce through the end zone.
5. Chris Rix did have a few problematic plays during this game, not many, but some. Most of our problems in the passing game came from dropped passes again though as our receivers continue to have troubles hanging on to the ball when they have their chances. I think Chris Rix's season stats would have looked a lot better with a receiving corps not so prone to drop passes. You have to expect some drops every once in awhile, especially on plays where the defense does it's job in hitting the receiver, but we just have far more drops than should be considered acceptable. I consider the criticism of Jeff Bowden's recent job as WR coach to be more valid than the criticism of his job as OC given the amount of dropped passes we've had to endure the last two seasons (plus the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma), but then again with Daryl Dickey being the one calling the plays, it's hard to really judge whether Jeff is doing a good job at OC or not. Maybe we should just have Dickey as OC, but I'm not that thrilled with his QB coaching job so far either. I'm thinking our QB and WR positions would be better served by having coaches fully devoted to those duties rather than splitting those duties with OC or play-calling duties. Anyway, here's the list of problems we had with our passing game on the night:
--Anquan Boldin was crushed for a 6 yard loss on a flare pass on our first offensive play. Not a good way to start.
--Craphonso Thorpe dropped an easy catch on an out pattern that would have been a conversion for a first down for us.
--Chris Rix was almost intercepted trying to get the ball to Talman Gardner in the end zone while scrambling to the sideline. There was no double coverage here, so I can't call this a bad choice by Rix. It was just poorly placed on the throw, so the problem was more in the execution than in the decision.
--Talman Gardner dropped a TD pass on a corner route. In his defense, the ball was very slightly tipped by the defender before it got to Gardner, but he should have been able to make the grab here as the ball hit him in the hands.
--Robert Morgan dropped a ball over the middle to kill a drive.
--Chris Rix missed Talman Gardner wide on an out pattern.
--Chris Rix missed Talman Gardner again on a sideline pattern.
--Anquan Boldin threw a pass behind Talman Gardner on a trick play where we had Boldin lined up in the backfield and let him throw. I loved the play call here, but the execution wasn't there. Gardner perhaps could have made the catch, but it was broken up by the Florida defender. With the ball thrown as behind him as it was I can't put the fault on Gardner for this play.
--Chris Rix just missed on a miraculous throw to Anquan Boldin. He did an amazing job just getting rid of the ball under pressure and then Anquan Boldin did an equally amazing job getting as close to making the catch downfield as he did, almost coming up with a spectacular diving catch. It's tough to call this one a negative. I forgot to note who allowed the pressure on this one to cause the incompletion.
--Chris Rix with a very stupid play flicking the ball after crossing the line of scrimmage on a scramble. Not only was it a bad choice in that he committed the penalty, but even if he hadn't crossed the line, this still would have been a very bad choice as the play wasn't there. We've seen him make these type of plays in the past, so I'm not going to complain about these type of flicked passes, but on this one he tried to force something that wasn't there. This was easily his worst play of the night.
--Chris Rix with a 3 yard run on a scramble. This one wasn't a good decision as UF only rushed four guys against seven blockers for us. Rix bailed on the play too soon and could have worked to buy time. Had he stayed with the pass longer, he probably would have had more room to run later in the play as the LB's would have had more time to drift deeper into coverage.
--Chris Rix with a bad read forcing a pass into double coverage on a deep pattern by Talman Gardner on a 3rd and 6 play. The incompletion ended a promising drive to start the first half. I hated that play call to go deep on that one as we needed to keep the sticks moving there. Fortunately Kendyll Pope put my worries to rest soon after this play.
--Pressure allowed by Alex Barron forced Rix into throwing the ball away.
--Chris Rix missed Talman Gardner on a corner route, throwing the ball too far to the outside and out of bounds.
--Pressure allowed by Alex Barron and Todd Williams forced Chris Rix to get rid of the ball on a 3rd and 15 play to kill a drive. Barron and Williams failed to read a UF stunt on the play. Williams blocked the DT but let the DE in untouched. Barron probably could not have gotten to the DE in time, so IMO Williams should have left the DT to Barron and picked up the DE.
--Chris Rix was forced to scramble for a 3 yard gain as late pressure allowed by Bobby Meeks kept him from being able to sit in the pocket.
--Robert Morgan was absolutely CRUSHED with a hit by Todd Johnson on a 3rd and 9 play forcing a drop to kill the drive. This one can't be blamed on Morgan as there aren't many receivers that could make this catch as Chris Rix really hung him out to dry with the high pass.
--Chris Rix underthrew the ball on a pass to Dominic Robinson.
--Chris Rix with a bad decision to scramble on a 3rd and 6 pass play, gaining only 1 yard and killing a drive. He didn't have any room to run here and should have rolled from the pocket to try to buy time.
6. The Florida defense did a good job with stuffing our running game roughly half the time. We had 16 unsuccessful carries for 12 yards. Here's the list of troubled plays on the ground:
--Leon Washington with a -3 yard run: B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes was beat to the inside to kill the play, Brett Williams with a block, Bobby Meeks with a pancake, I think David Castillo got a block, but I'm not sure as he kind of vanished into the stack (might have been knocked down), Todd Williams pulled and missed his block, Alex Barron with a block, Paul Irons with a block but was knocked down.
--Leon Washington with a 3 yard run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block.
--Chris Rix with a 2 yard run on a QB draw play: Leon Washington didn't get his block, Brett Williams and Bobby Meeks with a double team block, David Castillo and Todd Williams with a double team block, Alex Barron with a block. Rix did a good job bouncing this play to the outside with nothing open inside. He almost got the first down with the effort and set us up to be able to go for it on 4th and inches.
--Leon Washington with a 1 yard run on a 3rd and 12 draw play: Brett Williams with a block but was beat to the inside, Bobby Meeks showed good speed in taking off downfield without getting a block, David Castillo missed his block to kill the play, Todd Williams with a block, Alex Barron with a block. This was an example of trying the run in a passing situation with too many yards needed for my taste. I love the play call on 3rd and 6, 3rd and 8 type situations. Our successful run on 3rd and 10 earlier in the game was pushing it and 3rd and 12 is too much IMO. But I still like the thinking even if I quibble with the distances we're trying this from.
--Leon Washington with a 1 yard run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Bobby Meeks fell down, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Alex Barron missed his block, Paul Irons was beat to the inside to kill the play. Leon had nowhere to run. He might have been able to make a guy miss if he'd have bounced it outside, but he would have been one on one against an unblocked defender.
--Leon Washington with no gain on a run: B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Bobby Meeks was thrown aside and beat to the inside to kill the play, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams pulled and didn't get his block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Leon Washington with no gain on a run: B.J. Dean missed his block to kill the play, Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Matt Heinz was beat to the inside to kill the play, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Alex Barron with a light block.
--Leon Washington with a -2 yard run: B.J. Dean didn't block anybody, Patrick Hughes and Brett Williams with a double team block knocking their guy down, Bobby Meeks pulled and fell down, David Castillo whiffed on a decleater attempt to kill the play, Todd Williams with a block, Alex Barron with a block. Leon slipped on the carry to compound the problem.
--Leon Washington with a 2 yard run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Matt Heinz was beat to the inside to kill the play, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams missed his block to kill the play, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block. Todd Williams needed to hit the safety who was lined up basically as a linebacker on the play, but let him in unblocked to make the tackle.
--Leon Washington with no gain on a run: P.J. Selvidio with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Matt Heinz pulled and got a light block, David Castillo was beat badly to kill the play, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block.
--Torrance Washington with a 2 yard run: Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Matt Heinz with a block, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams was tripped, fell down and missed his block to kill the play, Brett Williams with a block.
--Leon Washington with a 1 yard run: Talman Gardner with a block, P.J. Selvidio didn't get his block but bumped one guy slightly, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a pancake, Matt Heinz pulled and got a light block, David Castillo got a block on a LB but looked like he was beat by a DT to partially kill the play, Todd Williams didn't block anybody, Brett Williams ran by his guy and didn't get a block but his man didn't get in on the play. Heinz needed to continue leading the play to block the safety instead of staying with the guy Selvidio could have picked up.
--Leon Washington with no gain on a run: P.J. Selvidio with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams and Matt Heinz with a double team block, David Castillo with a block but was beat to kill the play, Todd Williams pulled and knocked his guy down, Alex Barron with a decleater, Paul Irons with a block.
--Torrance Washington with a 1 yard run: Brett Williams with a block, Matt Heinz with a block, David Castillo was beat to kill the play, Todd Williams with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Leon Washington with a 3 yard run: James Coleman with a late block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Matt Heinz pulled and got a block, David Castillo with a light block but needed to get out and hit a LB, Todd Williams with a block, Alex Barron didn't get his block, Paul Irons with a block.
--Leon Washington with a 1 yard run: James Coleman with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams was beat to the inside to kill the play, Matt Heinz with a block but was beat to kill the play, David Castillo with a pancake, Todd Williams didn't get his block, Alex Barron with a block, Paul Irons with a block.
7. We again showed an alarming disinterest in the importance of timeouts in the first half as burned all three of our timeouts during a quick stretch in the first quarter. The first was on a 3rd down play to get settled, the second was before our own FG attempt, and the last was before a UF punt, evidently because we had too many or too few men on the field. Later in the game, we had the wrong personnel in for UF's two point conversion and failed to call a timeout to rectify that situation prior to the play being run. We were totally confused defensively on the play and gave up the two points as nobody covered Taylor Jacobs at the back of the end zone due to our confusion.
8. I didn't like our 3rd and 10 play call of a screen pass on our opening drive that led to us settling for a FG.
9. As dominating as we were in this game, we left an awful lot of potential points on the field. In the first half we had a drive start at the Florida 39 yard line and we got no points. In the second half we had drives that started at the FSU 45, midfield, the Florida 29 and the Florida 34 all end with no points, many of these were at points in the game where one more score would have really driven the stake through Florida's heart. That's five drives that I would term as ones where we have no excuses to not get at least a field goal on them IMO. That's the one area of play in this game where I'd really see fit to say we needed to do much better at. Every other negative element to our play can be wiped out by the happy reality that we stomped the Gators, but our inability to really put them away and blow them away when the chances were definitely there is cause for concern in this team's quest to get back to playing real FSU football. The dynasty level teams for FSU always had trouble putting away the cream of the crop in college football even in victory, but I don't feel that this year's Florida team was at that level, so I think our inability to really blow the game open is still cause for concern on an otherwise excellent night.
10. FSU committed 9 penalties for 70 yards on the night. I must have missed noting one of them as I only have 8 listed here.
--Pass interference penalty on Allen Augustin in coverage on TE Walker.
--Holding penalty on Ray Willis negated a 45 yard catch by Talman Gardner. This was a good call as I was looking right at Willis from the stands when he did this. Everyone around me was cheering the completion while I was disgustedly saying "It's coming back" the entire time.
--Personal foul penalty on Eric Powell hitting Rex Grossman unnecessarily after a handoff, probably thinking it was going to be a fake.
--Illegal pass penalty on Chris Rix for throwing the ball after crossing the line of scrimmage.
--Illegal procedure penalty on Alex Barron.
--Holding penalty on B.J. Dean for tackling a pass rusher negated a 19 yard catch by Talman Gardner. Gardner lost 64 receiving yards on two plays alone. He had 62 on the game, would have had another 64 if not for two penalties, and dropped a 39 yard (I think) would be TD pass. Gardner was very close to a huge game in this one.
--Intentional grounding penalty on Chris Rix. This one was a bad mistake as he didn't get outside the tackles before getting rid of the ball to an area with no WR around.
--Illegal formation penalty.
11. Xavier Beitia missed a 41 yard FG wide left. This one was bad because we started this drive at the UF 29 yard line and could get no points.
12. Nice chop blocking by Mo Mitchell.
1. Jared Hetzel was a special teams animal as always with at least four special teams tackles inside the 20 yard line helping FSU maintain our dominance in field position. During the game, the Gators started their drives at the 19, 6, 20, 6, 8, 15, 1, 29, 19, 16, 20, 25, 18, and 5 yard lines. That is absolutely astounding and played a huge role in the final outcome of the game, affording our defense the luxury to bend but not break on several occasions. I'm actually going to give Jared Hetzel a game ball for the job he did helping us in this department as it was extremely important to our effort on the night. Consider it a career game ball to a deserving player as well.
2. Our outside linebacking duo of Michael Boulware and Kendyll Pope were very active and had a big impact on the game. Here are the highlights for the LBs on the night:
--Vicious hit by Michael Boulware for a -3 yard TFL on a quick out pass to WR Ratliff, despite being blocked in the back on the play. Great job Michael!
--Big pressure by Kendyll Pope hurried a pass to the end zone by Rex Grossman and resulted in an incompletion.
--Kendyll Pope with a nice play to stuff a flat pass to RB Carthon for a 1 yard gain. Darnell Dockett and Bryant McFadden were also in on the play.
--Michael Boulware and Rufus Brown with a -2 yard TFL on a flat pass to WR Ratliff after he fumbled the lateral.
--Michael Boulware and Stanford Samuels with a nice pass breakup on a 3rd and 6 play to force Florida into settling for a field goal. On this one Walker bobbled the pass and couldn't hang on. We were lucky they didn't convert here as he was open on the play prior to the bobble.
--Kendyll Pope with a 13 yard interception return for a TD to incite total pandemonium in the crowd in what was the signature play of this game and perhaps Kendyll Pope's FSU career. The ball was thrown behind TE Walker which caused him to deflect the ball into the air and right into the hands of Pope, who appreciatively snagged it and waltzed into the end zone. This play was very reminiscent of Odell Haggins' INT return for a TD into the same end zone in the 1988 game. Game ball to Kendyll Pope for being at the right place at the right time to send Doak Campbell Stadium into a frenzy and for the rest of his solid performance on the night.
--Kendyll Pope with a vicious -1 yard TFL on a screen pass to RB Graham. Another play where our D was just swarming to the ball in the second half.
--Michael Boulware with a huge pressure and a near sack to force an incompletion.
3. Our secondary actually had one of their better games of the season in this one, particularly with their tight coverage on the deep passes attempted by UF. We gave up a fair amount of yardage underneath and over the middle, but never in this game did I have the sense that we didn't have things under control, even in pass coverage. There were points where we could have folded up and given up big and key plays in the air that would have gotten UF on the scoreboard more frequently than they did, but nearly every time the FSU D had an answer, even if those answers came in the form of a few unforced errors by UF as I'll attribute the unforced errors to our crowd and performance on other plays having an impact on the Gators execution. That's a big step for this defense against a team with a strong passing game like UF's. The high points in the secondary included:
--Good coverage by Stanford Samuels on an incomplete pass to the end zone.
--Good coverage by Leroy Smith on a deep ball intended for Taylor Jacobs.
--Good coverage by B.J. Ward on TE Walker on a 3rd and 14 pass helped cause the incompletion to stop a Florida drive.
--Stanford Samuels with a -3 yard TFL on a dump off pass.
--Excellent coverage by Bryant McFadden on a deep ball to WR Jacobs for an incompletion.
--Excellent coverage by Rufus Brown on a deep ball to WR Jacobs for an incompletion.
--Nice coverage by Stanford Samuels on WR Small for an incompletion.
--Nice pass breakup by Bryant McFadden on WR Jacobs on a curl pattern for an incompletion.
--Good coverage by Rufus Brown on a deep sideline pattern to WR Kight.
4. Our defensive line had their best game of the season racking up #### sacks and a huge number of QB pressures that had UF out of sync all night long. Travis Johnson really came through with a huge night in getting 4 TFLs including 2 sacks and also had a pressure that resulted in an intentional grounding penalty. Game ball to Travis Johnson for his huge night.
--Pressure by Eric Moore forced and incompletion on a 3rd and goal play. This was BIG for us to hold UF to a field goal on their impressive opening scoring march.
--Big pressure by Travis Johnson caused an incompletion on a 3rd and 14 pass to force a punting situation.
--Huge pressure by Travis Johnson forced an intentional grounding penalty on Rex Grossman.
--Big pressure by Eric Moore and Darnell Dockett forced an incompletion to end a Florida drive.
--Eric Moore with a tackle for no gain on run by RB Carthon.
--Huge pressure by Alonzo Jackson forced Rex Grossman into throwing a dump off pass that resulted in a 3 yard loss.
--Travis Johnson with a -2 yard TFL on a run by RB Graham. Tony Benford and A.J. Nicholson were also in on the play.
--Huge pressure by Donnie Carter and Kevin Emanuel forced an incompletion for a 3rd and 2 stop and a three and out for UF. This was a great job by our D and we were really swarming to the ball at this point of the game.
--Eric Powell, Darnell Dockett, Kevin Emanual, Brian Ross, B.J. Ward, Kendyll Pope and Allen Augustin combined to stuff a 3rd and 3 run by RB Graham for a -3 yard TFL and a three and out on that Florida drive. Our D was TOTALLY SWARMING on this play and something tells me we were looking for Graham to run on this play. Having seven guys in on the tackle is a pretty good hint that we were looking run. ;-) Powell didn't need any help on the play though as he had the situation under control.
--Eric Moore with a huge -7 yard TFL on an option run by RB Graham. Moore forced the early pitch by QB Grossman and then destroyed the tailback in the backfield. That was a phenomenal play by Moore.
--Travis Johnson with a -5 yard sack! Florida also committed a personal foul on the play to back themselves up further.
--Pressure by Travis Johnson, Alonzo Jackson and Eric Moore caused an incompletion.
--Travis Johnson with a -8 yard sack! Big pressure also by Eric Moore, Alonzo Jackson and Donnie Carter flushed Rex Grossman out of the pocket allowing TJ to clean up with the sack.
--Big pressure by Kevin Emanuel caused an incompletion.
--Huge pressure and a near sack by Alonzo Jackson and Eric Moore forced an incompletion.
--Huge pressure and a near sack by Tony Benford forced an incompletion.
5. As I was hoping to see going into the game, Chris Rix did a lot of damage to Florida with his legs with carries for positive yardage on scrambles out of passing plays. In this game, we saw Rix's decision making at probably the highest level of his career as far as deciding when to run, when not to run, when to buy time looking downfield, and when to just throw the ball away. He still has room for improvement, but if we could get this level of decision making every week from now on, our QB position will be in good hands. Rix's 83 yards on 14 carries were every bit as important as his passing yardage on the night in achieving this victory. We really needed that and I hope our staff sees fit to plan on that being another dimension to our offense in the future. Instead of putting the clamps down on Rix's running, we just need to properly instruct him when to go and how to go. Easier said than done as we've seen so far in Rix's career, but this game was definitely a big step forward in his development IMO, particularly in playing at this level after seeing very little action for four weeks. Particularly impressive and encouraging was the fact that we had ZERO turnovers on the night. The list of good decisions made in this phase of the game for Rix included:
--Nice 5 yard run on a scramble.
--Huge 24 yard run on a scramble for a 1st down on a 3rd and 11 play to start our first possession. That play sent a message early to UF.
--Good job avoiding a rush and throwing the ball out of bounds.
--Another good job getting rid of the ball under pressure.
--Nice 8 yard run on a scramble where he avoided the rush well.
--Great play in scrambling for 6 yards on a 3rd and 5 play. Rix showed great speed in getting to the sideline and this was a good decision to run because he saw that he could get the first down. Unfortunately he tripped over the bench as he tried to leap over it, but when he got up, he was treated to a very rousing cheer from the crowd for his effort, particularly from the student section that once jeered him.
--Huge 17 yard run on a scramble on a 2nd and 20 play from the 10 yard line at a point in the game where Florida seemed to be on the verge of a major shift in momentum. This was probably the biggest play of the game outside of Pope's interception for a TD. There was pressure allowed on the play by Brett Williams, David Castillo and Matt Heinz to force Rix into running. An incredible juke move in the open field by Rix completely froze the Gator DB Cromartie and left him just standing there as Rix ran by. Rix also outran LB Hardmon. That move got us 12 extra yards on the play, putting us in a much better third down situation that we were able to convert to keep possession on the drive that ended with a score to answer the Gators touchdown on the previous drive.
--13 yard run on a scramble. This was a great decision and a great run as Rix saw space and aggressively took it, using two stiff arms to knock down Gator tacklers along the way. He embarrassed LB Hardmon, just planting him with the first one. Excellent job by Rix.
6. Our passing game was very solid with the exception of all the dropped balls noted above. Rix finished the night passing 13 of 29 for 194 yards, 2 TD's and no INTs, but if those dropped passes were caught his night would have been more like 16 or 17 of 29 for closer to 260-270 yards, 3 TD's and no INTs. Even with his numbers where they were, I'll take that in a heartbeat against a defense that came in ranked #3 in the nation against the pass in Rix's first game back into action after sitting the bench for most of four games, especially when coupled with his 83 rushing yards. Game ball to Chris Rix for being in command of the game the whole night, easily outplaying his counterpart Rex Grossman despite having less numbers overall. The high points for FSU through the air included:
--30 yard strike to Talman Gardner on a corner route.
--Nice 9 yard pass on to Craphonso Thorpe on a scramble by Chris Rix. Thorpe did a good job coming back to the QB on the play and Rix did a good job looking downfield while on the move.
--Anquan Boldin with a nice 11 yard catch and run on a short look in pattern.
--Chris Rix with a beautiful play hitting Dominic Robinson for 22 yards on a scramble. Rix showed incredible patience on this play, continuing to look downfield the entire time, settling down and delivering the pass despite knowing he was going to get clocked immediately after. That's the sort of play we need him to make when he's scrambling. Find the open man if he's there and take off when nobody is there. Also a nice job here by Robinson coming back to the QB.
--Anquan Boldin with an excellent 22 yard TD catch on a corner pattern off of play action. This was a perfect pass by Rix and a solid route by Boldin, complete with a very subtle push to create space between himself and the defender. The ref was looking right at him and had a perfectly clear view of it when he made this play, so I'm convinced that he saw the push and decided it didn't warrant a flag, but I was worried in the stands at the time of the play and didn't start cheering until I saw that the ref wasn't reaching for his pocket.
--11 yard strike to Talman Gardner on a curl pattern. Gardner had a great adjustment to the ball to bring this one in.
--Anquan Boldin with a 16 yard catch and run on a slant pattern for a 3rd and 6 conversion. He was stopped by a nice tackle by Talman Gardner. We've been good at that this year, bringing new meaning to a team stopping themselves.
--Anquan Boldin with a 26 yard catch on a corner pattern. This was a beautiful pass by Chris Rix.
--Talman Gardner with a 22 yard catch and run on an out pattern. Great check off at the line and throw by Chris Rix. Good job getting yards after the catch by Gardner as he made a good move to get 11 extra yards.
--Anquan Boldin with a 19 yard TD catch on a corner route. This was another perfect strike by Chris Rix. These three passes on consecutive plays might have been the best three play set in Chris Rix's career. He looked unstoppable on these plays. This was an excellent job by our offense to answer the Florida TD with a TD of our own to stop momentum from going their way. We answered when it was most important to answer. That's a good thing. Game ball to Anquan Boldin, who finished the night with 8 catches for 108 yards and 2 TD's.
7. We came into this game really needing Leon Washington to step up and deliver some quality carries. The true freshman came through with that and then some in having a huge night carrying the ball 26 times for 134 yards and a TD. Game ball to Leon for putting his big-time stamp on the FSU-UF series with his performance in this one. Here's hoping he can make Gator killing a habit in his career. His speed and determination to excel allowed him to play like a senior in a game where our ability to run the ball would have a huge role in whether or not we would win. I thought if we played with heart going into this game that we'd find a way to win it. I didn't think I'd see a blowout in FSU's favor. Leon's performance is what took the possibilities for us to higher levels than I was previously envisioning. We are soooooooo unbelievably loaded at tailback if Leon is the fourth best guy we have this year.
On the night we had 15 successful carries for 134 yards. As mentioned above, we had 16 unsuccessful carries for 12 yards. That totals 31 planned running plays netting 146 yards. Our success ratio was only 48.4%, but we did average a very healthy 4.71 yards per carry, so I'd put our performance on the night in the positives category overall given that we were down to our fourth string tailback and had two starters down on the offensive line.
The highlights on the ground included:
--Leon Washington with a 15 yard run on a 3rd and 10 play: B.J. Dean with a block, Anquan Boldin missed his block, Patrick Hughes missed his block, Brett Williams with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo and Todd Williams with a double team block, but Todd fell down, Alex Barron with a block. This was a beautiful play call going with a run when they were looking pass. That's Bobby Bowden football and I'm glad that we had the running ability to pull it off on this night. Great job by Leon making it work. I like mixing in some runs on 3rd and long every once in awhile. I usually prefer it on 3rd and 8 type plays, and we've been trying it even on 3rd and 12 plays this year (mostly unsuccessful at that distance). It worked well here. It's a situational thing as to when to do it, and this was a good time to do it.
--Leon Washington with a 15 yard run: Anquan Boldin with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis didn't get his block, Bobby Meeks with a pancake, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block. Leon showed excellent speed in getting to and around the corner. Florida had a face mask penalty tacked on to the end of this run.
--Leon Washington with a 16 yard run: Robert Morgan with a block, B.J. Dean didn't get his block, Paul Irons with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block. This one was a great job by Leon finding a crease in the D.
--Leon Washington with a 5 yard run: B.J. Dean with a pancake, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a pancake, David Castillo needed a better block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block.
--Leon Washington with a 7 yard TD run on a misdirection pitch play left out of the Power I formation, stacked right: Anquan Boldin with an excellent block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Paul Irons had nobody to block, B.J. Dean with a block, Ray Willis with a block (I think), Bobby Meeks and David Castillo with a double team block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block. Leon showed explosive speed to and around the corner to get into the end zone here. UF DB Ratliff had the angle, but couldn't get him. I absolutely LOVED this play call.
--Leon Washington with a 2 yard run to pick up a 3rd and 2 conversion: Patrick Hughes with a pancake, Ray Willis with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Paul Irons with a block.
--Leon Washington with a 7 yard run: Talman Gardner missed his block to kill the play and possibly prevent Leon from breaking a big TD run as this had big play written all over it when Leon got past the line, B.J. Dean with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Chris Rix with a 6 inch run on a 4th and 5 inches QB sneak: Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Alex Barron with a block, B.J. Dean and Paul Irons were wasted as blockers by our formation on this play. I guess we were thinking of them as decoys selling a run by our tailback, but it didn't really work. So count this one as a changeup for us that probably wasn't helpful as we probably got more cute than we needed to given the distance needed to get the first down.
--Leon Washington with a 7 yard run: Anquan Boldin with a block, B.J. Dean with a light block, Brett Williams with a block, Bobby Meeks with a block, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Alex Barron with a block.
--Anquan Boldin with a 5 yard run on a reverse: Paul Irons with a block, B.J. Dean missed his block, Brett Williams with a block, Matt Heinz with a block, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams pulled and got a block, Alex Barron with a light block. It looked like Boldin was going to throw on this play, but pulled it down and ran, probably wisely so.
--Leon Washington with a 4 yard run on a 3rd and 3 play: Anquan Boldin with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Todd Williams didn't get his block, David Castillo didn't get his block, Matt Heinz with a pancake, Ray Willis with a block. This was an enormous play in the game and another excellent play call by our staff in pulling out the misdirection pitch play at *just the right time*. Leon was popped on the tackle by Todd Johnson but he got a huge first down.
--Leon Washington with a 17 yard run: Talman Gardner with a block, P.J. Selvidio with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block but was thrown down, Ray Willis with a block, Matt Heinz pulled and missed his block, David Castillo with a big decleater, Todd Williams with a pancake, Brett Williams with a block.
--Leon Washington with a 4 yard run: P.J. Selvidio didn't block anyone, Patrick Hughes with a block, Ray Willis with a block, Matt Heinz pulled and got a block, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams with a block, Brett Williams with a decleater or a pancake (not sure, but I do know he got the guy down).
--Leon Washington with a 12 yard run on another misdirection pitch: Anquan Boldin with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams with a pancake, Matt Heinz with a block, David Castillo with a block, Todd Williams and Alex Barron with a double-team block. By this point in the game we were just rubbing the Gators noses in it with another successful misdirection pitch and I was loving every moment of it.
--Leon Washington with a 17 yard run: P.J. Selvidio with a block, Patrick Hughes with a block, Brett Williams with a block, Matt Heinz with a block, David Castillo and Todd Williams with a double team block, Alex Barron with a block, Paul Irons with a block. This was a great read and cut to the hole by Leon and he again showed excellent speed in blowing by Todd Johnson on the tackle attempt.
8. Xavier Beitia hit a 36 yard FG to tie the game. That was a big kick to get the score back to even early in the game.
9. Florida was held to a 2 of 14 conversion rate on 3rd down plays. We solved our 3rd down problems with a major exclamation point.
10. Hats off to the FSU staff for dropping Dominic Robinson back to field short punts. This is the sort of attention to detail and good preparation specific to our opponent that I think has been often lacking from our team in recent years. This was a GREAT decision that saved us many yards in field position on the night as UF punter Ingle Martin launched shank after shank into the Tallahassee night. When we do it right, I have to make sure I give commendations to the staff, and we did it right here.
11. FSU's defense did an excellent job of bending but not breaking early in the game. Keeping Florida out of the end zone on some of those early drives was huge. As long as Florida was settling for field goals, I felt confident in how we were playing.
12. I was very happy to see Florida running the option as much as they did with Grossman being no threat whatsoever to keep the ball on these plays. We absolutely teed off on Grossman every time they ran this. I'll take the trade of a short run for the extra damage on Grossman any time and applauded Coach Zook every time he did this.
13. Chance Gwaltney punted 6 times for a 37 yard average, but played a key role in helping us maintain our field position edge. His big highlight was having a punt downed at the 1 yard line thanks to a great job by Pat Watkins, Jared Hetzel, and Paul Irons in keeping the ball from getting into the end zone and A.J. Nicholson in downing it to set the stage for Kendyll Pope's third down heroics.
Make no mistake about it, this was a huge win for the FSU program. We really needed this one after a season of turmoil and disappointment. It was really nice to get to see our seniors get to make their final memory at Doak Campbell Stadium a joyous one. In the event that we lose our bowl game and I don't do a summary for that one, I'd like to express my appreciation and give a standing O to Tony Benford, Robin Charles, Talman Gardner, Chance Gwaltney, Jared Hetzel, Montrae Holland, Jerel Hudson, Patrick Hughes, Alonzo Jackson, O.J. Jackson, Nick Maddox, Robert May, Antoine Mirambeau, Robert Morgan, Patrick Newton, Eric Powell, Mike Shaw, Travis Smith, Malcolm Tatum, Brett Williams and Todd Williams for all the great memories you have provided for us and the effort you all have given. It's been a disappointing and difficult two years for all of us in 2001 and 2002, but your efforts are appreciated and applauded and at least you went out kicking those lousy Gators back to Gainesville with tears in *their* eyes. So you kept what might be the most important streak of all of them for us firmly intact.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
OFFENSE: Chris Rix (with a big tip of the cap to Leon Washington and Anquan Boldin)
DEFENSE: Kendyll Pope / Travis Johnson
SPECIAL TEAMS: Jared Hetzel